Don't Call Me Grandma

  • Interest Level: Kindergarten - Grade 3
  • Reading Level: Grade 2

Great-grandmother Nell eats fish for breakfast, she doesn’t hug or kiss, and she does NOT want to be called grandma. Her great-granddaughter isn’t sure what to think about her. As she slowly learns more about Nell’s life and experiences, the girl finds ways to connect with her prickly great-grandmother.

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Interest Level Kindergarten - Grade 3
Reading Level Grade 2
Genre Picture Books
Category SEL: C Social Awareness, SEL: D Relationship Skills, Social Emotional Learning
Copyright 2016
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Carolrhoda Books ®
Language English
Number of Pages 32
Publication Date 2016-02-01
Reading Counts! Level 3.4
Text Type Fiction
BISACS JUV013030, JUV014000, JUV011010
Dewey [E]
Graphics Full-color illustrations
Dimensions 9.25 x 11
Lexile 530
ATOS Reading Level 3.6
Accelerated Reader® Quiz 180619
Accelerated Reader® Points 0.5
Features Author/Illustrator note, Awards, Bibliography/further reading, Original artwork, and Reviewed

Author: Vaunda Micheaux Nelson

Vaunda Micheaux Nelson is the author of The Book Itch, as well as three Coretta Scott King Award-winning books: No Crystal Stair, Bad News for Outlaws, and Almost to Freedom. She is a former youth services librarian in New Mexico. Visit her online at

Illustrator: Elizabeth Zunon

Elizabeth Zunon grew up in the Ivory Coast, West Africa, and memories of her childhood can be seen in her artwork. She currently lives in Albany, New York. Find her online at


  • Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC) Choices, Winner, 2017
  • New Mexico-Arizona Book Award, Winner, 2017
  • Children's Book Committee at Bank Street College Best Children's Book of the Year, Winner, 2017
  • NPR Best Books of the Year, Winner, 2016


NPR Books

“Vaunda Nelson spells out neither Nell’s past, nor the message of the book, allowing readers the best ending: a conversation about what makes us who we are, and the pleasure of loving difficult people.”—NPR Books’ Best Books of 2016


“It’s easy . . . to write books about fun grandmothers. . . . Introducing a sharp-tongued, disagreeable grandmother is more difficult. But Nelson pulls it off. . . . By book’s end, perceptive readers will see this 96-year-old as a multilayered woman who has experienced joy and tears.”—Booklist

School Library Journal

“The story’s perspective is from the child, who finds her great-grandmother ‘scary’ but also intriguing, outspoken, and glamorous. Zunon’s lively, colorful illustrations balance the serious tone of the text with warmth and saturation. . . . An appealing intergenerational story.”—School Library Journal

The Horn Book Magazine

“Nelson seems at first to be offering a character study, but it becomes something more when . . . [an] intergenerational exchange prompts a sort of laying on of hands. . . . Zunon’s illustrations . . . create a stage for the queenly central character.”—The Horn Book Magazine

Kirkus Reviews

“[A] tender story of an aging dragon of a diva and her great-grandchild. . . . Children will best appreciate this nostalgic journey when accompanied by a doting loved one.”—Kirkus Reviews

Publishers Weekly

“Nelson (The Book Itch) sensitively conveys the complexity of intergenerational relationships while celebrating a grandmother whose individuality hasn’t diminished one iota over the years.”—Publishers Weekly